With 56,000 workers in the life sciences and health technologies sector, Quebec is, without a doubt, leading the industry. The province is recognized worldwide for its excellence in life sciences and is currently drawing attention for its expertise in contract research for the wealth it brings and its ability to accelerate drug discovery. Quebec is now known as the Drug Discovery Valley.
The Quebec Drug Discovery Valley is recognized worldwide
Quebec is home to 86 contract research organizations (CROs) supporting more than 4,300 direct jobs, making it the largest concentration of workers in the field in the country and even in the Western world.
“This is a fast-growing industry thanks to an extremely efficient ecosystem. CROs represent more than 20% of the life sciences industry in Quebec and are a great asset for our community. The vast majority of their clients are international, which allows them to inject new money into our economy as well as create and maintain high-quality jobs.”
While reference has been made to the Quebec-Ontario Life Sciences Corridor for several years now, the large concentration of CROs and their expertise in the province is such that the Greater Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke regions are now described as the Drug Discovery Valley.
“The know-how and creativity of scientists in chemistry and biology in these three regions of Quebec are highly in demand in North America and around the world. The future is therefore promising for the Drug Discovery Valley, which will certainly gain more and more weight at the global level.”
Long-standing Quebec expertise led to a revival
In the 2010s, many research centres across Quebec closed down – in the Technoparc Montreal, for example, as did AstraZeneca in 2012 – and some pharmaceutical giants began outsourcing to Asia. These shutdowns have encouraged a skilled Quebec workforce to innovate: many contract research organizations have been created by former employees of large biopharmaceutical companies. One example is NuChem Sciences, which began operations with seven former Merck-Frosst medicinal chemistry research scientists.
These new companies have developed unique know-how and are now conducting research and development of health products, services or technologies for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The majority of these companies specialize in the research of new drugs. In Canada, it is estimated that, over the last decade, 60% of innovative small molecules and 82% of innovative biologics have come from research conducted outside of large pharmaceutical companies.
An expertise that has positioned NuChem Sciences as a key player in the Drug Discovery Valley
For NuChem Sciences, the differentiator of the Drug Discovery Valley on a global level – and of the company as well – is the expertise and ability of its workforce to solve drug discovery challenges in a way that complements biotech customers’ teams, but also teams of scientists in Asia and Eastern Europe.
Founded in 2011, NuChem Sciences has built an expertise in drug discovery project management and process chemistry. But it is above all its vision and way of working that are at the root of its success. Its teams develop partnerships with clients and are strongly involved throughout the drug discovery process. They work on project strategy and discuss challenges and difficulties to find innovative solutions. This is what has attracted many of the biotech companies that are now clients, many of which are in the United States, in the nearby Boston area.
NuChem Sciences has quickly become a key player for life sciences in Quebec, Canada and worldwide. The company has made several acquisitions, but everything accelerated this year with the acquisition of the Lévis-based company OmegaChem. Following this transaction, last September, the new group formed by the two companies became Canada’s largest CRO in drug discovery in chemistry, with 223 employees. This establishes the company as a major player both in the Drug Discovery Valley and in the global market.